Raleigh Gets Glimpse of New Union Station

The public got an early look at the new Union Station in Raleigh, North Carolina, this week when hundreds turned out for a dedication ceremony.

The station was built in the shell of the former Dillon Supply Company steel warehouse and took more than eight years to come to fruition.

The $111.4 million it cost to create the station was largely paid for with more than $70 million from the federal government. The rest of the funding came from state and city government funds.

Amtrak will begin serving the station in early June and it will replace a much smaller facility that the passenger carrier now uses across the tracks from the new facility.

Raleigh Union Station is located on the western edge of downtown and features a 9,200-square-foot waiting room that with its high-backed wooden benches appears much like a traditional railroad depot.

“One of the great visions for this facility was to create an entryway into downtown,” Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said during the ceremonies.

“And in a sense, that is what we have created — a front door to the city in the heart of the city.”

Union Station will also accommodate bus service, but that section of the facility is not expected to be finished for another four years.

The building housing the station kept many features of the old steel warehouse, including the massive steel pillars and ceiling beams in the main hall.

Developers left in place two overhead gantries once used to move steel around the building. Also left was the large sliding steel door on the back wall.

Steel plates from the warehouse were used to line the walkway leading to the raised platform, which is 920 feet in length.

That is long enough to accommodate the Silver Star, which along with the Carolinian and Piedmont Service will use the new station.

A short platform at the existing station meant that the Silver Star had to stop twice.

The raised platform is at train floor length level so passengers will not have to ascend or descend steps from their trains.

It is the first train-level platform in North Carolina and one of the few in the South.

Designers left room for another platform and a set of tracks for commuter or high-speed trains that may someday serve Raleigh.

The front of Union Station features a circular driveway and a short-term parking lot with a capacity of two dozen vehicles.

Parking spaces for the station have been set aside in the public parking garage for the Dillon office tower across West Street. That parking will cost $2 an hour or $18 for the day.

Inside the station there are escalators to carry passengers from a tunnel that leads to the boarding platforms.

A five-foot-tall clock hangs on the wall just above the ticket counter. Train information is available on electronic boards.

There is room for shops and restaurants, but no leases for either have yet been signed.

York Properties is seeking tenants for 3,847 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, 6,262 square feet of offices on the second floor and a 2,702-square-foot retail or restaurant spot with a rooftop patio on the third floor.

Amtrak served 151,000 people in Raleigh in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2017, making it the second busiest train station in North Carolina behind Charlotte. The station will serve 10 trains a day after it opens.

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